M.A.D.D. Rhythms, Chicago’s premier tap collective, has been selected by Vans as part of Vans’ “Foot the Bill”program that supports small business partners throughout the country. Vans is teaming up with independent shops and community driven spaces, like M.A.D.D. Rhythms, to create custom footwear and apparel. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a devastating toll on small businesses, the net proceeds from the “Foot the Bill” merchandise goes directly to each of the partners involved. The t-shirt, designed by Vans, available for $30, and sneakers, designed by M.A.D.D. Rhythms, available for $100, may be color customized available for purchase online at vans.com/footthebill through Sunday, May 2. Information about M.A.D.D. Rhythms and its 20th Anniversary season may be found at MADDRhythms.com.
The design, conceived by M.A.D.D. Rhythms, includes:
- The dancers which are a part of M.A.D.D. Rhythms logo
- The logo colors—red, green and black—which are part of African American history, as created in 1920, red: the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry, and shed for liberation; black: for the people whose existence as a nation, though not a nation-state and green: the abundant and vibrant natural wealth of Africa, the Motherland
- Gold to symbolize M.A.D.D. Rhythms celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2021
- Camouflage, on the back, to signify that the company works, creates and dances as a unit
- On the left foot is the word “RESPECT” and on the right is the word “THE DANCE.” This phrase, “Respect The Dance,” was coined by the late Professor Robert L. Reed and is said by M.A.D.D. Rhythms at the end of every performance, gathering and meeting as a way of paying homage to all those who danced before them and have created the rich history of Tap that M.A.D.D. Rhythms continues today.
“M.A.D.D. Rhythms is very much about community. So, Barrett gathered Starinah “Star” Dixon, Donnetta Jackson, Megan Davis, KJ Sheldon and Izaiah Harris around the computer together to create a design that we would be proud to wear and truly represent us,” said Founder Bril Barrett. “We are thankful to Vans for choosing us as a grassroots partner and look forward to seeing this design on people across Chicago and beyond.”
Each participating partner’s “Foot the Bill” footwear and apparel feature unique artwork that best represents its business. Through the Vans Customs website, customers will be able to support a business by selecting its unique design to create a custom pair of Vans. Participating partners will choose one Vans Classics shoe silhouette and it will serve as a canvas for the artist of their choice. Customers will then have the ability to use the Vans Customs tools to select color, print and material combinations to design a truly custom pair of vans.
Vans continues expanding the program adding two to three small businesses to the list of “Foot the Bill” partners each week. Vans will produce up to 1000 pairs of custom Vans and 250 t-shirts per business partner and once they’re sold out, that design will no longer be available for purchase. Through efforts like “Foot the Bill” Vans is committed to championing inclusivity by supporting small businesses that are owned and operated by diverse communities.
ABOUT M.A.D.D. RHYTHMS
M.A.D.D. (Making A Difference Dancing) Rhythms is a phenomenal tap dance collective whose “SOLE” purpose is to spread the love and joy of tap worldwide. What started as Bril Barrett and Martin Dumas III’s formula for giving back, is now, in its 20th year, a full-fledged 501 (c) 3 performing arts company, quickly gaining a reputation for representing the true essence of tap: RHYTHM! The company is composed of young, versatile tap dancers from all over Chicago. Their ages range from 17 to 45 years old, and their backgrounds are equally diverse. The one thing they all have in common is a love for “the dance.”
M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ mission is to preserve, promote and contribute to this art form called tap. They teach its history, represent its culture and advocate for its future. M.A.D.D. Rhythms uses this beautiful dance/music form to make a difference in the under-served communities of this world by connecting and caring for the youth of this world. Believing that having access and options gives a child a greater chance at a positive life, M.A.D.D. Rhythms spreads the joy, love, discipline and expression of tap to as many children as they humanly can!
M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ performance opportunities, in short, have included: Dance Africa Chicago, Dance Chicago, The Stars of “Dance Chicago” in Istanbul, Turkey, M.A.D.D. Rhythms Canada’s “Release Yourself” and “Great Feets of Rhythm,” Downbeats Canada’s “Embrace the Rhythm,” Miami’s Art-Deco Festival, An Expo for Today’s Black Woman, Kwanzaa Festival, The African Festival of the Arts, St. Louis Tap Festival, Boys and Girls Clubs National Conference, the Chicago Historical Society’s Summer Performance Series, and DuSable Museum’s educational theatre series. They have also produced nine full-length productions, created the annual Chicago Tap Summit and educated more than 200 students via The M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy.
In an effort to continuously give back to their communities, they have also worked with many public and private schools and volunteered performances for various community affiliated organizations including A.C.E.S. (Athletes Committed to Educating Students), Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, Nikola Tesla Alternative High School for Girls, TCA Health and Nutrition Fair, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and Rainbow House.
Vans®, a VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) brand, is the original action sports footwear, apparel and accessories brand. Vans® authentic collections are sold in 97 countries through a network of subsidiaries, distributors and international offices. Vans® has over 2,000 retail locations globally including owned, concession and partnership doors. The Vans® brand promotes creative self-expression in youth culture across action sports, art, music and street culture, and delivers progressive platforms such as the Vans Checkerboard Day, Vans Park Series, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing®, Vans Custom Culture, and Vans’ cultural hub and international music venue, House of Vans.